By Jason Beattie
David Cameron has piled on pressure on China to stamp out the illegal trade in ivory.
He invited President Xi Jinping to a conference on the crisis to be hosted by Prince William.
Elephant tusks and rhino horns used in Chinese medicine are blamed for the £10billion trade. Mr Cameron warend of the threat of rhinos being hunted to extinction.
He added: “I have invited the Chinese leaders to come and attend this conference. I think it is very important.
“It is obviously something I have invited the Chinese leaders to join and we look forward to hosting a successful conference.
“It is an issue of real concern to people right across our country. We don’t want to be the generation that sees species that are so iconic and important in our world disappear. That would be a terrible dereliction of duty.
“So I feel a personal connection and enthusiasm with this project and I am delighted Britain is giving it such a lead.
“It is also extremely helpful to have members of the Royal Family who are so committed to this agenda.”
With a pound of ivory fetching as much as £800 on the black market, gangs have killed thousands of animals in African nature reserves, with some environmentalists warning that elephants could be wiped out in the continent within 25 years.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “We are losing a Rhino every eleven hours. We are losing an elephant every 15 minutes - because ivory is worth $2000 a kilo. There is absolutely no doubt about it - the value is enormous.
“For ivory alone the value of illegal crime is around £10 billion. So there is huge interest in solving this problem.
“We need to teach people that ivory is not just old tooth - that it comes from killing animals.”